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Preview: Stars at Blackhawks

Chicago competing for Presidents' Trophy; Dallas forward Jason Spezza to miss second straight game

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

STARS (29-33-10) at BLACKHAWKS (47-20-6)

8:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, FS-SW+, NHL.TV


Stars team scope 

Dallas Stars forward Jason Spezza (back spasms) didn't make the trip to Chicago and will miss his second straight game. Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start after making 30 saves in a 1-0 win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Former Chicago Blackhawks defense prospect Stephen Johns will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game and Jamie Oleksiak will play. "The original idea was to get [Johns] back in, but with a shutout, we may not change the defense," coach Lindy Ruff said after an optional morning skate. "You want to reward the guys who pitched a shutout in front of [Lehtonen]." Former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp will play despite a hip injury that will require surgery. "Eventually, you probably have to get something fixed up," Sharp said. "It's just a matter of time really, but in the meantime, I can skate and I can play, and I'm going to go out there and help any way I can." Dallas is 2-4-0 in its past six games and 15 points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.


Blackhawks team scope  

The Blackhawks are six points ahead of the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division and Western Conference. They are tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets with 100 points, trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by a point and two points behind the Washington Capitals in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. "First overall would be nice," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We'd like to keep moving ahead. That's a tough race with four teams right now a couple points apart. We'll see how it plays out, but certainly that'd be nice." Defenseman Johnny Oduya will play his first game against the Stars since he was traded to the Blackhawks on Feb. 28. "It's not really weird, but it's different facing guys you spent a year and a half with and you get to know quite well," Oduya said. "It's a mutual respect. You want to battle hard and you want to win." Goalie Corey Crawford will start after allowing four goals on 10 shots before he was replaced in the third period of a 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The Blackhawks are looking to sweep the five-game season series against the Stars.


Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn -- Cody Eakin -- Ales Hemsky

Remi Elie -- Tyler Seguin -- Brett Ritchie

Devin Shore -- Radek Faksa -- Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzie -- Adam Cracknell -- Jiri Hudler

Esa Lindell -- John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis -- Greg Pateryn

Patrik Nemeth -- Jamie Oleksiak 

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi 

Scratched: Stephen Johns

Injured: Jason Spezza (back spasms), Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee) 


Blackhawks projected lineup

Nick Schmaltz -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Ryan Hartman -- Patrick Kane

John Hayden -- Marcus Kruger -- Marian Hossa

Dennis Rasmussen -- Tanner Kero -- Tomas Jurco

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Johnny Oduya -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Andrew Desjardins, Jordin Tootoo, Michal Kempny, Michal Rozsival

Injured: Artem Anisimov (lower body)


Status report 

The Stars are expected to use the same forward lines and defense pairs from their victory against the Sharks. … Schmaltz left the skate early, but is expected to play. … Hartman was moved to center against the Canucks and will get another look in that role.


Who's hot

Kane has 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) in his past 13 games. … Panarin has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past seven games. … Toews has six points (three goals, three assists) in a six-game point streak and 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in his past 17 games.

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